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BIRDING THE LUNE ESTUARY THE FOREST OF BOWLAND AND BEYOND.........AVOCET JUVENILE CONDER POOL HOWARD STOCKDALE

Wednesday, 27 November 2019

The Full Page....Well Almost!

The page was almost filled in the little black book yesterday. 

Starting with calling at Conder Green about 30 minutes before the high tide, when a smart adult Mediterranean Gull dropped in with the Black-headed Gulls to make a decent start to the session, and at least 150 Teal. On Conder Pool, 3 Little Grebe, 25 Curlew, 18 Wigeon, with 2 Snipe over and a hovering Kestrel.

On the canal basin, a drake Pocharddrake Goldeneye, 38 Tufted Duck, 2 Goosander, and a Great-crested Grebe. Of note on the Lune Estuary, c.350 Dunlin, and low counts of 45 Golden Plover, 34 Black-tailed Godwit, and 32 Curlew, 2 Little Grebe were on the River Lune today at the Conder mouth.

Driving along Moss Lane to Cockersand, several groups totaling an estimate of 200 FieldfareFour Rock Pipit were off the marsh at Cockerham Sands, also 6 Snipe, and 18 Turnstone were again on the shingle here, and a lone Grey Plover on the shore. At Bank Houses, 9 Greenfinch, and a Wren. In fields, c.225 Curlew and 28 Black-tailed Godwit.


Stonechat Cockersand 26 Nov Pete Woodruff. Clik the pik 

By a stroke of fortune along Slack Lane, a bird seen flying across the field behind Lighthouse Cottage, and then on the bulrushes along the ditch between fields, was a male Stonechat, soon joined by a female, they were almost certainly last Thursdays pair less than a mile south from here at Cockerham Sands.

The pik is as good as it gets with my little digi camera. Not world class equipment, and the bird was a long way off using the zoom lens. Clik the pik, it really is essential this time to see the bigger picture. 

The session ended even better than it had started with the Mediterranean Gull. Well....after all they were Stonechats!

The Lune Estuary Pochard.

It was good to see a drake Pochard on the canal basin yesterday at Glasson Dock, one seen at Middleton NR on Sunday was referred to as 'presumably the Lune Estuary singleton?'.

The Pochard is at best a scarce bird anywhere on the Lune Estuary, referred to as 'very irregular' in the LDBWS Annual Report. My last record was a drake on Conder Pool 21 June, previously, three drake was an exceptional record also on Conder Pool 31 May 2018.


Pochard. Pete Woodruff.

A female photographed through the fog on Conder Pool 15 March 2018, has an even more scarce status than the drake. 

Saturday, 23 November 2019

The Pay Off.

Birding started a little sluggish on Thursday. I found just 2 Little Grebe at Conder Green with 38 Wigeon, and 9 Goosander on Conder Pool. The Lune Estuary at Glasson was dull and dreary bird-wise, though in excess of 1,000 gulls is a bit of a contradiction to that, but c.120 Black-tailed Godwit were the only waders of any note.


Stonechat Martin Jump@Flickr

But things bucked up at Cockersand, if only because the persistence of three previous visits with one bird in mind paid off today. In a quote from my post on 17 November....'I was also hoping to find a winter Stonechat here, they usually are'....Just as I had hoped for, and had expected to be honest, I found 2 Stonechata male and female in the area of marsh in front of the Caravan Park, just the one initially, but eventually two birds. 

Ten Black-tailed Godwit were feeding close in on the shore, and 6 Turnstone were doing just that on the shingle here again, also 4 Greenfinch seen. Up to 40 Fieldfare were dropping into a field as I drove past Gardner's Farm on Moss Lane.

Earlier in the week I had seen a Goldeneye on the River Lune upstream from Skerton Bridge, and saw a Jay and Long-tailed Tits in the wooded area here. I then walked along St Georges quay, and on to pay a visit to Aldcliffe, where I saw at least 90 Fieldfare in the hedgerow, and had good numbers of Redwing and Greenfinch, both making it hard to get a grip on numbers being on the blind side of the hedge running parallel with the flood, but certainly a decent double figure of the thrushes.

On the Wildfowlers Pool, 4 Goldeneye, 6 Shoveler, and c.130 Teal were to note, and on the canal walking back to Lancaster, a pair of Goosander seen.

In the header image, Cockersand was as good as it gets on Monday last. It was pure magic to be on the headland and look over the flat calm sea.

Thursday, 21 November 2019

Twite Alright.

The fields this week at Cockersand were virtually void of the waders I'd been witnessing recently, and who knows where the Golden Plover had gone today, I had no sign of them in 5 hours anywhere on the Lune Estuary. But 42 Black-tailed Godwit were feeding quietly in the field south of Abbey Farm. A similar number of 12 Meadow Pipit were seen as on my last visit here, up to 170 Whooper Swan weren't accessible and distant. Four Greenfinch were around Bank Houses where I watched a male Kestrel make a dive at a Carrion Crow in the horse paddock.

Twite Cockersand. Pete Woodruff. Clik the pik

Saving the best until last....In the dying few minutes of the visit to Cockersand, 10 Twite dropped on to a treetop at the end of the Caravan Park, to spend some time preening before flying off. Something of a reward, and well worth the time I spent raking around. 

On the Lune Estuary at Glasson Dock, 3 Goldeneye drake were my first here this winter, also 350 Wigeon were the best count here too, and 12 Goosander was a good count also. Uncounted but nothing unusual about at least 2,000 Lapwing to note, also uncounted, a 'few' Redshank, up to 160 Black-tailed Godwit, 34 Snipe, c.225 Dunlin, 62 Curlew, a drake Red-breasted Merganser and a Great-crested Grebe

On the canal basin, a drake Goldeneye, 58 Tufted Duck, and a Great-crested Grebe. At Conder Green, 8 Little Grebe were seen as five in the creeks, and three on Conder Pool where I counted 32 Wigeon.

Recommended Reading.

There's an account of an amazing Redwing roost in East Lanc's on Bryan Yorke's website 'I Love Arnside & Silverdale' Here

Tuesday, 19 November 2019

This Day 25 Years Ago.

From my records.

At 10.30am on 19 November 1994, I was looking through some waders on the groyne at Teal Bay, when I came across an odd one out amongst 50 Ringed Plover. I instantly noticed it had long black legs, and void of taking more notes of some subtle differences between sexes, I referred to the bird as a female Kentish Plover. But by late summer a male would have attained female-like plumage, so my claim of a female was actually somewhat dubious and shouldn't have been made.

Kentish Plover. Courtesy of Fylde Bird Club.

Bearing in mind these were the days before the mobile phone was common place - and I certainly didn't have one - I remember driving to Heysham to deliver the alert about the discovery, and the drive back to Teal Bay to find the bird had departed, no doubt the result of disturbance by a wind-surfer active in the area. I appreciated the note in the LDBWS Annual Report which read....'Thanks to PW for driving to Heysham to inform me (PJM), pity about the wind-surfer!'

But the record of this Kentish Plover takes on an even more interesting note, when it was thought to have been the very same individual to have arrived back at Rossall Point, Fleetwood a couple of hours after leaving Teal Bay. This Kentish Plover had first appeared at Rossall Point on 8 March 1992 and returned there each winter for 6 years, until it was last seen on 9 March 1997.

Today, the Kentish Plover is an annual migrant to Britain in small numbers, about 40 birds on average are reported, but few of these are on the west coast.  

First for Britain.

The first record goes back to 1787 at Sandwich in Kent, when a keen observer of natural history sent a specimen he had shot, to a Dr Latham who found it to be an unknown species, and subsequently named it a Kentish Plover. 

Sunday, 17 November 2019

Dream On!

I watched this small group of Turnstone at Cockersand, as one of the most appropriately named birdsscurrying across the shingle turning stones in search for food as they went.

 
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Not recorded in this short video, I observed them as they took to flight a couple of times, and heard them call. A first for me, as I've never been so close to Turnstones before to be able to hear the call as clear as this....
If I'm honest the visit to Cockersand was planned to have been a thorough and pleasant  one, a search with the hope of finding a Snow Bunting on Plover Scar, but saw 10 Knot with 250 Oystercatcher. I was also hoping to find a winter Stonechat here, they usually are. Two Rock Pipit were on the marsh edge as the tide receded, a lone Greenfinch seen, with others heard in the Bank Houses area, a female Shoveler was in the large ditch running through the field at the Moss/Slack Lane junction where 12 Meadow Pipit were flighty.

Otherwise the visit to Cockersand soon went downhill for me, it was thwarted not least because of the cold howler in my face and I had to beat a retreat called back to Lancaster. Unfortunate, as the fields were alive with a few thousand waders which would have kept me interested and occupied for some time, including the recently seen at least 3,000 Golden Plover and 650 Curlew, with large numbers of RedshankDunlin, and Lapwing

Who knows, I could have missed an American Golden Plover with the 'Europeans', a White-rumped Sandpiper with the Dunlin, or even a Ruff with the Redshank....Dream on!

Thanks to Ian Mitchell for the header image, a fraction of the 3,000 Golden Plover currently resident at Cockersand.   

Wednesday, 13 November 2019

Oh No....Not The Lune Estuary Again!

I got a text yesterday morning to tell me of a Snow Bunting on Plover Scar, by something of a coincidence the very place I was heading for at the time. Thanks for the heads-up Ian, it was much appreciated as always, and the dip took nothing away from the appreciation.

Despite giving three hours to Cockersand, the Snow Bunting was nowhere to be seen, but I noted 325 Oystercatcher and a lone Ringed Plover on Plover Scar at high tide. At my back as I checked the scar, I found the field to the north of Abbey Farm was holding at least 2,500 Golden Plover, an impressive sight here again, also the number was more like 635 Curlew today, an increase of around 100 at my last two counts. There are always a few wildfowl around the ditch south of the abbey, today 32 Teal, and close by 25 Wigeon were grazing. Along the length of the headland, 12 Turnstone, with 6 Grey Plover seen on the wing. 


Rock Pipit Cockersand 12 November. Pete Woodruff. Clik the pik

At Cockerham Sands, 5 Rock Pipit seen on the marsh and the shingle to the north of the Caravan Park. Off Moss Lane, 65 Whooper Swan were at Clarkson's Farm, and uncounted Fieldfare seen from a moving car included c.20 in a tree.

To note on the Lune Estuary, c.320 Black-tailed Godwit, also 82 Wigeon were all hauled out and on the mud. On the canal basin, 28 Tufted Duck and 5 Goosander. Ten Little Grebe at Conder Green were seen as the same pattern as last Friday, with five on Conder Pool, and five in the creeks including two downstream towards the Conder mouth.

Common Sandpiper at Conder Green.

A Common Sandpiper has wintered at Conder Green for 11 years now, but despite the traditional circuit search yesterday, there was no sign of the bird again for the fourth week. But this absence for long periods has happened before, in fact in its second year of wintering here, it wasn't seen after 22 November 2009, until it reappeared on 28 December, so I'm not prepared to give up on the Common Sandpiper at Conder Green just yet. 

Sunday 10 November.

On a beautiful sunny and calm day, a pleasant wander over Heysham Barrows with KT saw a Song Thrush and up to 12 Long Tailed Tit in the woods, and a Rock Pipit on the shore at Half Moon Bay. 

Sunday, 10 November 2019

Notes From The Lune Estuary.

The peak count of 22 Little Grebe on Conder Pool this year was on Sunday 6 October (Ian Hartley). Since then the number on the pool begins to fall each year by mid-October, and the grebes are to be found in the creeks and have even been seen at times on the Lune Estuary. 

On Friday I found 10 Little Grebe, five of which were in the creeks, and included two downstream towards the Conder mouth, the other five were seen on Conder Pool with 2 Goosander noted.

At and around Christ Church, at least 12 Long-tailed Tit seen, with a Grey Wagtail seeming out of context amongst the topmost branches of a tall Sycamore. A Great-crested Grebe was amongst a good number of Coot on the canal opposite the church. Noted on the Lune Estuary, with the exception of Lapwing, wader numbers were very low and unremarkable, a conservative estimate of 350 Common Gull, with an equal number of Black-headed Gull, 22 Black-tailed Godwit, c.120 Wigeon and 2 Goosander

At Cockersand, Tuesdays 550 Curlew were seen as at least that number again today, but c.450 Golden Plover were less than half the number seen that day. Walking along the road, a Snipe came up out of a ditch, 180 Redshank were on/around the flood at the Moss/Slack Lane junction, and a Merlin allowed me to stalk quite close, perched on a fence post.


Common Darter Cockersand 8 November. Pete Woodruff.

Although their flight period goes into November - rarely in December - it's always going to be a bit of a surprise to see a Common Darter on a cold day at Cockersand in that month.

Thanks once again to Howard for his excellent Little Grebe header image.

Thursday, 7 November 2019

Golden Moments.

Another short - but I was raking about for 5 hours - and sweet job!

I was tempted to say Tuesdays birding was a little quiet, but then if I was to report seeing in excess of 1,000 Golden Plover at Cockersand, that would make the comment a bit of a nonsense. There was at least 750 in a field to the south of Abbey Farm, 175 to the north, and 125 in a field off Slack Lane.

When the sun eventually came out, and the wind dropped too in the late afternoon, it shone some brilliant light on to the plovers in the field south of Abbey Farm to give a stunning golden carpet effect to the birds which twice left the field to fly low over my head to create a 'whoosh' of 1,500 beating wings as they went out over the shore to turn and return to the field....Golden Moments to savour.


Curlew. Howard Stockdale. 

There was also the good number of 550 Curlew in a field at Cockersand today. An excellent count in one field for a species in the Red on the UK Conservation Status list. One of the most rapidly declining birds at a near 50% fall in number, even exceeding this in Wales and Scotland. If like me you've been lucky enough to have heard the evocative bubbling call of the Curlew when on the moors in Bowland, it stays with you forever. 

Only c.50 Whooper Swan were in view at Cockersand today. On Conder Pool, 6 Little Grebe, 6 Goosander, 4 Snipe, 18 Curlew, and 4 Wigeon. Up to 80 Teal were in the creeks. A bit of a howler in the face made the Lune Estuary hard work, but only 350 Golden Plover of any note, with 32 Tufted Duck and 2 Goosander on the canal basin.

In Greaves Park this Thursday morning, 4 Jay together were closely accompanied by 6 Magpie.

In the header, a large number of gulls follow the small fishing boat in Morecambe Bay. Also I was grateful for the excellent set of images Howard sent me yesterday, of which the most appropriate for this post was the Curlew. Clik the pik, the light reflecting on the bird is quite something.

Sunday, 3 November 2019

The Bullfinch Has It.

Whilst some decent weather lasted, on Thursday I decided on the walk from Aldcliffe to Glasson Dock to note 33 species including, walking by Freeman's Wood I found 5 Goldcrest, a Treecreeper, and a Jay. At Freeman's Pools, 6 Goldeneye were my first this winter with a few Gadwall seen. In the Frog Pond field, a mix of up to 900 Greylag and Canada Geese were at around 60/40%. The only bird of note on the Wildfolwer's Pools was a drake Shoveler.

In the Stodday area, a pair of Bullfinch in the cutting was excellent, also a Song Thrush, and 7 Little Egret together on the marsh. Along the way, 12 Blackbird, 6 Long-tailed Tit, Greenfinch, Coal Tit, and Wren. On the canal basin, 11 Tufted Duck were all female, and at least 50 House Sparrow were around the bowling green bushes.


The Bullfinch.


Male Bullfinch. Richard Pegler.

Thursdays Bullfinch sighting was the best of the walk. Having only occasionally visited traditional sights in south-east Cumbria, Arnside and Silverdale, I've only ever made 15 records over 10 years, none of which were in Bowland. I think the surprise of these was 5 seen in Lancaster Cemetery on 30 October 2014, but 10 years earlier was the best of my records, when I found 4 Bullfinch at Birk Bank on 1 November 2004, this was followed by 4 here again on 22 November, then almost a month later I found 8 Bullfinch here on 18 December.

These are the only records of Bullfinch in
 Bowland in our recording area that I am aware of, but it is interesting to note that 2004 was the year of an invasion of continental Bullfinch into northern Britain around mid-October, when exceptional numbers were reported mainly in Scotland and along the east coast of England. No coincidence then, that these records of Bullfinch in Bowland occurred around this date in 2004, and that the distinctive 'toy horn' call of the Northern Bullfinch was noted in my records.

Thanks for the much appreciated Bullfinch Richard. 

Friday, 1 November 2019

Swans Return.

On Wednesday I counted 245 Whooper Swan, back in a field opposite the entrance to Clarkson's Farm....A wonderful sight, and good for the soul. 


On a brief visit to Cockersand, on what was left of Plover Scar under a 10m+tide, just 6 Turnstone seen. In the field south side of Abbey Farm, 550 Golden Plover and 60 Curlew, a Kestrel hovered overhead, with another seen later over Jeremy Lane. A Small Tortoiseshell was probably my last butterfly of the year.


Greenshank. Richard O'Meara. Clik the pik

On Conder Pool, 3 Greenshank, 14 Redshank, a Snipe, 3 Goosander, and 5 Tufted Duck female, 6 Little Grebe included two in the creeks. A Kingfisher seen on Conder Pool, it/another was seen later in the creeks.

Thanks to Richard for the trio of images he sent me recently, including the Greenshank.